Posts Tagged ‘ Burma ’


Time to catch up with posting again, so here is a stunning piece of work from my Flickr friend Ethan, whose Burmese travels have produced a plethora of beautiful compositions.


There are three compositional techniques used within this shot, turning something serenely simple into a powerhouse of interest. Most obvious is the pairing of silhouette (the man in his boat) and layers (which is really a subtle form of silhouettes, where light is diffused in between the masking elements. The majesty of the landscape is given definition through the layers of hills that descend to the water’s edge, one so close that it is nearly as dark as the primary subject. And so the subject merges into the natural scenery; the man-made in harmony with its surroundings.

The third attribute is the golden ratios. These are not quite as obvious as one might expect, but fully appropriate to the scene: the boat between (but not quite reaching) primary and secondary horizontal, and sitting on the secondary vertical (yes, the boat, rather than the horizon). This interestingly puts two of the background peaks on the vertical primaries.

That the boat is between primary and secondary golden ration, moving out of the scene, breaks the rule that the subject should be entering the frame, but it also adds a sense of story; that this is a timeless life, repeated father to son for countless generations.

Wonderfully peaceful


Washer Woman

Another shot from my Flickr contact Ethan‘s trip through Burma – it’s all in the little details…

Washer Woman

There are three parts to this image, though most people probably only notice the first – the most prominent – which grabs the viewer’s attention. That primary element is the subject: the washer woman, in stark silhouette, but distinct enough in form that there is no doubt what she is doing, or of her role in society. She is the balance that holds all else together: yin to society’s yang, which is reflected in the wrapping curvature of her body shape and the complementary form that is not silhouetted.

The placement of this balancing symbol perfectly on the intersection of lower primary and left-side secondary golden ratios is a clear element of mathematical balance. Though the image might still work otherwise, the impact would be nowhere near as evocative.

The second element is the secondary scene: the land beyond the lake, with its faint layering of trees: a cascade of softer shadow-silhouettes as one climbs above the secondary golden ratio that is the water’s edge, towards the far distance of the sky.

And lastly, the emptiness of one of the most powerful framing elements of all: negative space. The expanse of water fills at least half the image, and yet it is not there, but for the texture that gives it scale.

Undeniably powerful.


It’s been a little while since my Flickr friend Ethan (cormend) last featured herein, but his Burmese adventure continues to provide some spectacular shots.

Aquaculture (V)

Something of a classic – shot many times by others – this is a powerful example of simplicity. The scene is well known: a life aboard a small boat, working the waters to survive. But not every example of this scene balances the elements so well. Here, there is little more than a boat spanning the width of the frame, sitting on the upper golden ratio line with a sea of patterned negative space as a lead-in, but it is that very simplicity that makes it work. It is the placement of the fisherman on the secondary golden ratio, facing out of the scene, that strengthens that sense of emptiness, giving the impression that he is all alone in an infinitely large world. (Yes, I know, there are the other ships on the horizon, but they are more mirage than real.)

The casting of the scene into silhouette also serves to make it more impersonal: we, the viewers, may be able to observe and empathise, but we are not a part of the scene; we cannot be a part of his world.

There is one additional detail in this shot that is a very effective extra: the triangular curve of reflected sunlight off the nearest wavelets – an anchor that suggests the distance may not be quite as uncrossable as the rest of the scene implies.

Serene yet strong.

Morning Frost

On his travels through Burma, my Flickr contact Ethan (cormend) has uncovered some stunning scenery.

Morning Frost

While the processing makes this image stand out at first glance, there is far more to the scene than pink hills. From a primary compositional perspective, the beauty of this shot is in the way it draws the viewer into the scene: the frosted grass in the very foreground, separated from the rest by a gully, but paired with the post and bucket on the other side, which acts as an anchor. The hint of a path then provides a cue to follow, into the middle distance where the main subjects are to be found, a basic triangular arrangement that reaches out to the left-side secondary golden ratio (and vertically its tip finds the primary). Beyond this, the expanse of wonder is thrown open.

It is interesting that though almost a stray scratch, the one tall stalk of grass on the left, which rises above the line of the hills, is enough to provide framing for the hut on the right: evidence if ever it was needed that balance can be most effectively accomplished with the unbalanced.

The magical realm is both cold and alive; daunting yet inviting.

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